Home Religion Religions and Migrations in the Black Sea Region
Past and Present Destinations
Currently, Hungary and Italy remain the main destinations for Clejeni, with Spain also having become a major option for migrants. Among the chosen destinations, but to a much smaller degree, are Israel and Portugal, while among the newer countries mentioned by locals, one can find Greece and Sweden, France and England. Discussions with people who have returned from abroad or with the relatives of the migrants show that many of them have a history of relocating to several destinations, in other words, they have the experience of multiple migrations (Ciobanu 2014). The rule is that that those who leave first go to Hungary or Israel, and this is followed by Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Greece or England. Such is the case of a young man from Cleja whose mother had already been living in England for 12 years (and even in this case, the young man first had the experience of working in Hungary and Italy before going to England). His exploration of England (along with other destinations) extended over several years, “since the crisis”, (i.e. the financial crisis) as many interviewees state.10 Regarding the exploration of other secondary destinations, respondents mention not only the crisis which “forced” people to orient to new countries, but also an “overcrowding” of previous destination regions.
Bulgaria, France, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Norway and Canada are among the other countries that people have been choosing lately. Although departures to England do not come as often into discussion as departures to Greece, France or Sweden, this destination apparently is becoming increasingly attractive. The social worker interviewed in the course of our research mentions that “lately” there are “some” immigrants whom she knows to be in Greece, Sweden, France and England, “but most of them are in Italy, Spain, Hungary”. Although only one of the respondents we discussed with worked in England, people either know someone who went to England or heard that “there are many [immigrants from Cleja] in England as well”. Therefore, England is mentioned as an actual or potential destination on the basis of hearsay. In most cases, the common belief is that “things are better there [England]”—as long as you have the opportunity to reach this country.
Cleja is a highly heterogeneous community when it comes to the destinations migrants choose. Hungary is the traditional and oldest destination, mainly due to the ethnic composition of the commune. The fact that most of the locals are Csangos allowed for a strengthened connection to this country. Moreover, the locals’ knowledge of the Csangos dialect proved to be useful for the adult population, especially for those who migrated soon after 1990. Also starting with 1990, migration to Italy became frequent for Clejeni. Italy is the main destination for the entire region of Moldova, and religious confession may play a part in this choice.
What is especially interesting in the case of Cleja is the fact that, as mentioned earlier, most migrants here have a history of multiple migrations.
A considerable number of local inhabitants went to work in Hungary and then moved on to one or more different destinations. This is a characteristic of Cleja’s recent pattern of migration after 2007, which can be claimed to have its roots in the EU integration in 2007. It can also be seen as a consequence of the global financial crisis, which first affected the destination countries and was only subsequently experienced at origin. However, in the case of Cleja, it also seems to be linked to the ethnic and religious composition of the population. Firstly, we have people of Csangos ethnicity who, no matter what their preferences are in terms of self-identification, benefit from their connection with Hungary and their knowledge of the Csangos dialect. Secondly, most of the locals are of Romano-Catholic confession, which is relevant both at the level of individuals’ migration and at community level, by facilitating the flow of information. Belonging to the Romano-Catholic faith implies the participation in the weekly meetings at the Church in Cleja, which increases solidarity in the community and interactions between migrants and non-migrants. By this means, the flow of information is facilitated and people have access to first-hand information, useful in the process of migrating and adapting in the new world they find at the destination.11
As mentioned above, studies of Romanian international migration show that religious networks were one of the major mechanisms that facilitated the flow of information useful for going to work abroad.12
In the case of Romania, neo-Protestant and Catholic churches had a major role in generating migration. In both cases, the religious institutions sustained, through religious pilgrimages or through the existence of neoProtestant networks, the access of the Romanians in Spain and Italy. (Anghel and Horvath 2009, 38-39)
Among the reasons why religious confessions, such as Adventism, Protestantism or Catholicism, can facilitate departures abroad is the fact that they are involved in the organising of the life of individuals and social groups, so that connections between persons are frequent and solidarity inside the community is high. In the case of the Romano-Catholic community in Cleja, the strong affiliation to the Church implies a more thorough involvement and participation on the part of youth, which in turn has effects on the development of a “culture of migration” and their exposure to it. This leads to a growing attraction for the experience of working abroad among the youth.
Moreover, the predominance of the Romano-Catholic confession stimulates relations within the group, which are significant in forming migration patterns abroad. In the case of Cleja, mixed marriages do not occur that often. The priest of the community made the following comment on the question of mixed marriages: “There are some mixed families... but we can’t say there are many marriages between Romano- Catholics and Orthodox”. The high involvement of young people in the religious life of the community, and the encouragement of in-group marriages lead to a specific flow of information. This flow of information, which is essential in the emergence of migration networks, does not only occur in the village centre of the commune, but also between villages where the same confession is predominant. According to the priest:
First, some left abroad, and they made possible for the ones who remained at home to go as well. They help each other, they are very united as families and between families. When they go, they settle there and take others with them. And there are, in general, many relatives, and they know each other, those from my parish [from Cleja] are acquainted with the ones in Buda, Somu7sca, Valea Mica. So they are mixing through marriages, Romano- Catholics here, with Romano-Catholics in the other villages and for example. Things they speak of here are already known by the end of the day in the other side of the commune. So there is no problem for them to learn the latest news within one day (.).
This excerpt from the interview with the priest appeared in the context of discussions about how belonging to one parish or another plays a role in facilitating migration abroad. Because in Cleja we come across a considerable diversity in terms of destinations, there is also heterogeneity concerning the ways people went abroad and their occupational status there. On the one hand, we have those who worked without papers, at least for a short period of time, and they usually reached the destination by means of migration networks. On the other hand, we have departures that were mediated by work contracts, to destinations such as Israel or Portugal.
Romanian migration continues to be supported by migration networks, which currently function differently than during 1990-2002, since the liberalisation of international mobility reduced the costs and risks of going abroad to work. At the same time, the overcrowding of some destination regions and the economic crisis are reasons for the diminished “power” of networks in the migratory process. Even though the efficiency of such networks seems to have decreased in time in terms of providing help or information about where to stay or how to find work, networks still serve as means of learning about opportunities in new destination countries.
Frequenting meetings at Church is especially helpful for individuals who do not yet have the experience of migrating abroad for work. The interactions there are “another form of social capital” (Massey et al. 1998, 44), allowing people to obtain information about opportunities abroad that reduces the risks and costs of migration. Moreover, a strong involvement in the religious life of the community in Cleja on the part of the interaction between Romano-Catholic migrants and non-migrants strengthens the impact that migration has at the origin and contributes to the idea that migration is a practical strategy for individuals, and especially the youth.
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